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Doctors' strike could lead to "chaos"

The result of a ballot of doctors is expected on 2 September.

INDUSTRIAL ACTION BY doctors could lead to “chaos” in Irish hospitals, it was said today.

The results of a ballot on the issue are expected to be known on 2 September.

Eric Young, assistant director of industrial relations at the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), told Newstalk this morning that the IMO’s non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHD) committee is due to discuss the issue on 3 September following the result of the ballot, and make a decision.

This means they could potentially have industrial action within two weeks of that date, he said.

He also said that doctors were “much more likely than not” to undertake industrial action, and such action could “lead to chaos”. However, he said that patients would not be at risk.

Contingency arrangments

The IMO has discussed contingency arrangements in the case of industrial action with the HSE. Young said that services that are not urgent and more routine would be more likely to suffer.

He said that for most cases, “the issue could be resolved by better rostering, better organisation of work, by better reconfiguration of services”, and that these would all need to be looked at on a local basis.

He said that most cases don’t involve lot of money, but “require focus and leadership both at a national level and local level”.

He criticised the HSE and Department of Health, saying there “doesn’t seem to be anybody in the system, in the Department of Health or HSE who is willing to show leadership to take responsibility for this issue and have it resolved”.

The HSE and the IMO are to meet later this week to discuss the issue, and management approaches to the European Working Time Directive (which governs how many hours doctors can safely work).

Young said that so far the level of engagement and action from the HSE and Department of Health has been “minimal”.

The IMO’s 24 No More campaign is looking for an immediate end to shifts of more than 24 hours. It also wants a promise from the HSE to adhere to the European Working Time Directive by the end of 2014.

Read: Junior doctors expected to vote in favour of industrial action>

Read: “Be prepared” – Doctors get ready to go on strike>

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